A physician heads down a dangerous road when he sets aside his ethics in this hriller from director Lance Daly. Martin Blake (Orlando Bloom) is a British medical student who has come to the United States to begin a residency at a hospital in Southern California. Blake is handsome and charming, but beneath the surface he’s an arrogant man who longs to wield power over others. Blake doesn’t fare well with his first few patients, and is on shaky ground with his superiors when he begins treating Diane (Riley Keough), a beautiful teenage girl with a kidney infection. Diane is clearly taken with Blake’s good looks and they enjoy one another’s company, while his superiors are impressed with the care he’s taken with her. But Blake doesn’t want Diane released too quickly, and begins adjusting her medication to that her infection will take longer to clear up. Jimmy (Michael Pena), an orderly, notices what Blake is doing, and threatens to expose him unless he wants — a steady supply of pharmaceuticals. Also starring Rob Morrow, Taraji P. Henson and J.K. Simmons, The Good Doctor received its world premiere at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.
Despite his odd and bland demeanor, however, he is a competent doctor in the eyes of those around him. Though questioned by a saucy nurse that does not mince words, (Taraji P. Henson in a great role) and virtually doted on blindly by his supervisor (Rob Morrow), it appears that Martin Blake has it all. Still he longs for respect.
When Blake muffs a prescription and gives a patient a drug they are allergic to, things begin to really look amiss mentally for the odd doctor.
Soon, Diane Nixon (Riley Keough) is admitted to his care with a kidney infection. Immediately, Blake is smitten and shows emotions that nobody thought he had. She too is completely head over heels for Blake, flirting openly. Eventually, Blake heals her and becomes her hero of sorts. It is not long before Diane’s father comes and invites him to dinner.
This is where the movie takes an odd and ominous turn. Without any logical reason or explanation as to why, Bloom decides to check out the medicine cabinet and replace Diane’s meds with something else. He goes and soon finds her back at the hospital with a “relapse” of her problem.
Directed by Lance Daly, this movie creeps along and sneaks up on you. Despite plenty of reasons to be bored to tears due to the pacing and character study style of the movie, I really was entertained. It is a movie that you have to pay attention to get the nuanced motives and slow burn feel of the plot.
Soon, Blake finds himself in danger due to an orderly with too much information and a drug problem. Blackmail leads Blake down a slippery slope and into some major trouble. Things get even more complicated when Diane slips deeply into trouble due to his meddling.
While the movie certainly has its positives, it is certainly not without some problems too. I never thought the movie went into the reasons behind Bloom’s madness. It is clear he has a crush on the girl, but that does not seem to be the only problem with his psyche. He seems to be a mentally deranged person with a bland exterior, but nobody ever addresses that in the movie. Perhaps he was using her to try to advance his career by “solving” her difficult medical problem. Nobody really knows which of these things motivated him, because The Good Doctor never answers that question.
Despite these unanswered questions, I truly enjoyed the movie. It is a thinking person’s movie, but it seems to move crisply. You don’t get bored even though Bloom’s character is so bland. It is kind of like watching a person self-destruct on film and it makes you sad, but you can do nothing to prevent it. Regardless, you can’t look away.
This is easily one of Bloom’s deepest roles and in my opinion, one of his best. Riley Keough is also outstanding as his victim/love interest.